What is Walker Cup's main goal?

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 6, 2013, 10:52 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – What’s the ultimate goal of the Walker Cup?

One question, two wildly different answers.

Here’s U.S. captain Jim Holtgrieve, on the eve of the biggest event in amateur golf: “It’s not about winning. It’s about building relationships, and that’s what these guys are going to do.”

OK, so what is more important to you, GB&I captain Nigel Edwards: winning or building relationships? After the laughter subsided, he didn’t hesitate.

“I’m here to win.”

Illuminating replies – especially at an event that has grown decidedly more competitive in the past two decades.

Sure, the overall record shows it is 34-8-1 in the Americans’ favor. But they have split the past 12 meetings, 6-6. Over that span the U.S. leads in total points, 155 1/2 to 136 1/2, though that statistic is skewed by the beatdowns in 1997 (18-6) and 1993 (19-5).

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Great Britain and Ireland has won just twice on American soil in the 91-year history of this event, and not since 2001. But this 44th Walker Cup should be particularly intriguing, especially because a firm, fast and gusty National Golf Links could actually better suit the visitors.

After all, this GB&I squad boasts the winners of the U.S. Amateur, British Amateur, St. Andrews Links Trophy and the English Amateur. The other team members have previously won the Irish Amateur, European Amateur and qualified for the U.S. Open.

“You look at the success of this team,” Edwards said, “and this is a strong team.”

Two years ago, the U.S. team arrived at Royal Aberdeen as a heavy favorite with a lineup that featured Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Peter Uihlein, Patrick Cantlay and Russell Henley. The Americans still lost.

“Everybody was saying how strong the American team was,” Edwards said. “Well, with the population in America, it’s hard not to have a strong team, isn’t it?”

Good point, though this collection of U.S. talent isn’t as talented (or as deep) as the group that lost, 14-12, in the brutal Scottish winds.

That’s partly self-inflicted. Holtgrieve, who also captained the team in 2011, changed his approach in hopes of reversing his fortune in the biennial event. He scouted more players and spent more time on the road, taking in nine events in all. He studied chipping and putting statistics, knowing that National stressed those aspects of a player’s game.

His biggest shakeup, however, was the formation of his team. It was the 65-year-old Holtgrieve who initially suggested that the mid-amateurs should have a permanent place on the team. Last year he asked Nathan Smith, a four-time U.S. Mid-Am champ, whether he had any intentions of trying to make his third Walker Cup squad.

“I’m 34 years old,” Smith told him, “and I can’t compete in the tournaments that you need to compete in to make the Walker Cup. I’ve got a wife. I’ve got a job.”

That “hit home” for Holtgrieve, who played in the Walker Cup when he was 35. He vowed to lobby the USGA to consider putting two mid-ams on the team, hopeful that the rule would go into effect in 2015. Apparently, enough important people liked his suggestion, and here we are, two years early.

“It’s the right decision,” Holtgrieve said. “How do we grow the game? Only by winning? Come on.”

GB&I has no such mid-am mandate, and its oldest player, 27-year-old Neil Raymond, reached the quarterfinals of the recent U.S. Amateur and will turn pro later this month.

That’s OK with the USGA – or at least that’s what it says publicly – which is why the bluecoats have always made this two-day event about more than just golf for the 10 team members.

Sure, they have played nine practice rounds in the past three weeks at National, but players have also been treated to an itinerary that included three nights at the W Hotel in downtown NYC, a tour of the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero, a trip to the U.S. Open tennis tournament (including a photo-op with Roger Federer), and a lunch and four-hole spin with former President George W. Bush.

But another U.S. loss this weekend would be a seminal moment for this event, especially with nearly all of the other significant Cups (Ryder, Solheim, Curtis), including this one, already filling up trophy cases across the pond.

“When we tee off, the goal will be to win,” assured Cal’s Michael Weaver. “When all this stuff is going on, yeah, it’s a lot of fun. But I guarantee you the main thing we’ll be focusing on tomorrow is trying to play our best to win.”

So maybe that is the ultimate goal of the Walker Cup, after all.

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Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 9:54 pm

Brittany Lincicome will tee it up with a pair of rookies when she makes her first start in a PGA Tour event Thursday at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, is scheduled to go off the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET in the first round with Sam Ryder, 28, and Conrad Shindler, 29. They’re off the first tee Friday at 2:59 p.m. ET

Lincicome will become just the sixth woman to play in a PGA Tour event, joining Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie.

“The first three or four holes, I’ll be a nervous wreck, for sure,” Linicome said.



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Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 8:31 pm

Brittany Lincicome wondered how PGA Tour pros would greet her when she arrived to play the Barbasol Championship this week.

She wondered if there would be resentment.

She also wondered how fans at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., would receive her, and if a social media mob would take up pitchforks.

“I can’t stop smiling,” Lincicome said Tuesday after her first practice round upon arriving. “Everyone has been coming up to me and wishing me luck. That means a lot.”

PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, husband of LPGA pro Gerina Piller, welcomed her immediately.

Other pros sought her out on the practice putting green.

She said she was also welcomed joining pros at a table in player dining.

Fans have been stopping her for autographs.

“It has been an awesome reception,” said Dewald Gouws, her husband, a former long-drive competitor. “I think it’s put her much more at ease, seeing the reception she is getting. There’s a lot of mutual respect.”

Lincicome, 32, wasn’t sure if she would be playing a practice round alone Tuesday morning, but when she made her way to the first tee, Domenico Geminiani was there, just about to go off.

He waved Lincicome over.

“He said, `Hey, Brittany, do you want to join me?’” Gouws said. “Come to find out, Dom’s a pretty cool guy.”

Geminiani made it into the field as a Monday qualifier.

“The two of us were both trying to figure things out together,” Lincicome said.

Keene Trace will play to 7,328 yards on the scorecard. That’s more than 800 yards longer than Highland Meadows, where Lincicome finished second at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic last weekend. Keene Trace was playing even longer than its listed yardage Tuesday, with recent rains softening it.

Nicknamed “Bam Bam,” Lincicome is one of the longest hitters in the women’s game. Her 269.5 yard average drive is 10th in the LPGA ranks. It would likely be dead last on the PGA Tour, where Brian Stuard (278.2) is the last player on the stats list at No. 201.

“I think if I keep it in the fairway, I’ll be all right,” Lincicome said.

Lincicome is an eight-time LPGA winner, with two major championships among those titles. She is just the sixth woman to compete in a PGA Tour event, the first in a decade, since Michelle Wie played the Reno-Tahoe Open, the last of her eight starts against the men.

Lincicome will join Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Wie in the elite ranks.

Zaharias, by the way, is the only woman to make a 36-hole cut in PGA Tour history, making it at the 1945 L.A. Open before missing a 54-hole cut on the weekend.

What are Lincicome’s expectations?

She would love to make the cut, but . . .

“Just going to roll with it and see what happens,” she said. “This is once in a lifetime, probably a one-and-done opportunity. I’m just going to enjoy it.”

Lincicome grew up playing for the boys’ golf team at Seminole High on the west coast of Florida. She won a couple city championships.

“I always thought it would be cool to compete against the guys on the PGA Tour,” Lincicome said. “I tend to play more with the guys than women at home. I never would have gone out and told my agent, `Let’s go try to play in a PGA Tour event,’ but when Tom Murray called with this opportunity, I was really blown away and excited by it. I never in a million years thought I would have this opportunity.”

Tom Murray, the president of Perio, the parent company of Barbasol and Pure Silk, invited Lincicome to accept one of the tournament’s sponsor exemptions. Lincicome represents Pure Silk.

Lincicome said her desire to play a PGA Tour event is all about satisfying her curiosity, wanting to know how she would stack up at this level. She also wants to see if the experience can help take her to the next level in the women’s game.

As a girl growing up, she played Little League with the boys, instead of softball with the girls. She said playing the boys in golf at Seminole High helped her get where she is today.

“The guys were better, and it pushed me to want to be better,” Lincicome said. “I think playing with the guys [on the PGA Tour], I will learn something to take to LPGA events, and it will help my game, for sure.”

Lincicome has been pleased that her fellow LPGA pros are so supportive. LPGA winner Kris Tamulis is flying into Kentucky as moral support. Other LPGA pros may also be coming in to support her.

The warm fan reception Lincicome is already getting at Keene Trace matters, too.

“She’s already picked up some new fans this week, and hopefully she will pick up some more,” Gouws said. “I don’t think she’s putting too much expectation on herself. I think she really does just want to have fun.”

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Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

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Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

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Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”